About Adotei Akwei

Adotei Akwei is Managing Director, Government Relations for Amnesty International USA. He rejoined AIUSA in September 2010 after serving as the Senior Policy Advisor for CARE USA. In this capacity, Adotei helped develop and implement advocacy on CARE USA's priority issues towards the US government. Prior to joining the Government Relations team in Washington DC, he served as the Regional Advocacy Advisor for CARE's Asia Regional Management Unit. As an RAA, Adotei supported CARE Country Offices in Asia in the development and implementation of national level advocacy strategies as well as with regional advocacy priorities. Before joining CARE, Adotei worked with Amnesty International USA for 11 years, first as the senior Advocacy Director for Africa and then later as Director of Campaigns. From 1992 to 1994 Adotei served as Africa Director for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, now Human Rights First. Prior to that he served as the Research and Human Rights Director for the American Committee on Africa and the Africa Fund. Adotei received his Master's degree in International Relations from the College of William and Mary and his Bachelor's degree from the State University of New York College at Purchase. He is born in Ghana, is married and has two sons.
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Nigeria: Turning the Page or More of the Same?

NigeriaReportby Adotei Akwei and Bridget Duru

March 28, 2015 was a huge turning point for Nigeria. For the first time in the country’s history, the incumbent did not win the presidential election. General Muhammadu Buhari, the man who defeated President Goodluck Jonathan, was sworn in on May 29.

The largely peaceful political transition set an important benchmark for the rest of the continent’s democratic aspirations and of course it has also triggered hopes in Nigeria that the country is embarking on a new chapter and a political, economic and diplomatic renaissance. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

VICTORY: You Took a Stand. Now Moses Akatugba Will Walk Free!

Over the last year, activists like you have taken more than 800,000 actions in support of Moses Akatugba, who was imprisoned in Nigeria at 16 years old, tortured, and later sentenced to death on suspicion of armed robbery — a crime he says he didn’t commit.

For months, Amnesty International activists have been campaigning on Moses’s case, including writing letters, participating in demonstrations and sending online messages on Moses’s case as part of Amnesty International’s Stop Torture Campaign and 2014 Write for Rights action.

Yesterday, Amnesty activists put renewed pressure on Emmanuel Uduaghan, the governor of Delta State, to free Moses before the governor’s term ends today. We learned yesterday afternoon that Moses was granted a full pardon.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Behind the Numbers: Understanding Boko Haram’s Reign of Terror in Nigeria

A student stands in a burnt classroom burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, May 12, 2012. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GettyImages)

A student stands in a burnt classroom burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria, May 12, 2012. (PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GettyImages)

By Adotei Akwei and Caroline Courtney

“They used to train girls how to shoot guns. I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village. They’ll dress us and demonstrate to us how to explode a bomb. This training went on for 3 weeks after we arrived. Then they started sending some of us to operations. I went on one operation to my own village.” –Aisha (age 19)

Imagine waking up one morning, preparing for a friend’s wedding just before you are kidnapped, forced into “marriage” with one of your abductors and held captive in a remote camp hundreds of miles from home.

In these camps you witness brutal executions, are required to convert to an unfamiliar religion, and threatened into killing on behalf of an atrocious armed militant group. Sexual violence is an everyday occurrence.

2,000.

What might sound like a fictitious Hollywood plot to some is all too real for others. This is the story of Aisha, whose real name will be withheld for security reasons. Aisha is one of the estimated 2000 girls who have been abducted by Boko Haram and one of the few who have escaped.

276.

One year ago, the world was left in shock after the abduction of 276 girls from to town of Chibok, Nigeria. Unfortunately, the horror of these abductions is just one aspect of an insurgency that has been devastating Nigerian communities long before the story of the 276 Chibok girls became international news last year and continuing after the abductions occurred.

5,500.

Boko Haram militarized in 2009 and has been gradually claiming territory in the northeastern regions of Nigeria. Starting in 2014 and into 2015, the scale and quantity of the group’s attacks skyrocketed, resulting in the deaths of at least an estimated 5,500 civilians. Amnesty has documented several of these attacks, including the raid of Baga town on January 3rd,2015 when 2,000 people were killed and the attack on Bama in March where an estimated 5900 people were killed.

In March the Nigerian people made history by sweeping out incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and electing former head of State Muhammadu Buhari, who vowed to crush Boko Haram. The Jonathan administration was widely criticized for its failure to stop the insurgency and restore peace and security to the northeast states most impacted by the conflict.

It is critical that the international community press President-Elect Buhari to follow up on his campaign promises to not only free the Chibok girls, but to restore the rule of law and protection of human rights in the north as well as throughout the country. The violence of Boko Haram is just one challenge that must be addressed by the new leadership in Abuja and these challenges will not be solved by military means.

Aisha deserves to live in a country where she can go to school without fear, where one’s religion does not mean a death sentence and where her government is willing to invest in the safety of its people.

365.

We cannot wait another year to free the Chibok Girls and end violence against women and girls in Nigeria.

For more information, read the Amnesty International report “Our jobs were to shoot slaughter and kill” on Boko Haram’s reign of terror in northeastern Nigeria.

#DearObama: Freedom of Expression and the State of the Union – An Opportunity for the President

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.

By Adotei Akwei and Cindy Tsz-nga Ko

On Tuesday January 20, President Obama will have an opportunity to address the nation and underscore the priorities for his administration in 2015. Much of the speech is expected to focus on domestic economic issues but the White House has also indicated that issues such as policing in the United States, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo and violent extremism will also be addressed. Given that a key the underlying theme connecting these issues is human rights, the central question is whether the Obama administration will shape foreign policy that will help build a safer world where rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

The President’s framing of key human rights concerns in this evening’s State of the Union address may be an indication of whether or not the Obama administration will use 2015 to champion human rights, as so many hoped, or whether he will pursue misguided policies that sideline human rights in the name of security. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Elections in Nigeria Must Lead to Protection and Accountability

NIGERIA-UNREST-RELIGION

[UPDATE: The Nigerian presidential elections have been postponed to March 28, 2015.]

In the Nigerian presidential elections on February 15th, and after a year of conflict spurred by attacks by the armed group Boko Haram, one would expect security issues to be the top topic of debate. However, in his New Years address to the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent in the election, placed little emphasis on the severity of the violence in the northern regions of the country. Instead, he devoted a majority of the speech to his commitment to the oil industry and other topics of infrastructure and development. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Tomorrow could mean life or death for Moses Akatugba

Moses Akatugba was 16 years old when he was arrested by the Nigerian police in 2005.

In the years that followed, he was beaten by the police, shot in the hand, and hung for hours at the police station. After 8 years of torture and ill treatment that led to a coerced confession of his involvement in a robbery, he was sentenced to death November 2013.

Moses’ case is sadly all too familiar in Nigeria, where a recent report by Amnesty International found the use of torture and ill-treatment to be rampant SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Torture, the Way of Life for the Nigerian Security Forces

Bxz_81jIIAI4rpvAn encounter with the Nigerian security forces can be a dangerous thing.

The police and military routinely engage in beating people in their custody with whips, gun butts, machetes, batons, sticks, rods and cables. Rape and sexual assault are widespread Detainees can be shot in the leg, foot or hand during interrogation, or have their nails or teeth extracted with pliers.

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Zone 9: The Growing Gulag in Ethiopia

Free Zone 9 Bloggers

(Credit: Hisham Almiraat, Global Voices Online)

In Ethiopia, an ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists, and other dissenting voices, are imprisoned in the eight zones of the infamous Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa.

However, a ninth zone exists in Ethiopia, one that extends well beyond the walls of Kaliti. The inability to express thoughts freely without fearing for one’s safety represents a virtual ‘imprisonment’ for the vast majority Ethiopian citizens. It was with this principle in mind that “Zone 9” was created.

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Boko Haram: Now What?

Women hold banners during a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom (Photo Credit: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images).

Women hold banners during a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom (Photo Credit: Philip Ojisua/AFP/Getty Images).

Johanna Lee contributed to this post. 

In mid-April, Islamist armed group Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls aged 15-18 from the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria. The abductions triggered outrage, protests and a social media campaign criticizing the response of the Nigerian authorities and demanding a major effort to secure the freedom of the girls.

Yet, almost two months later, little, if any, progress has been made in freeing the kidnapped girls and the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and his security forces have failed to communicate a plan or even convince the families of the girls that they are doing all that they can to get the girls released.

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